20 top rieslings for summer sipping

by Michael Cooper / 27 January, 2017

Riesling, the classic white wine ­variety of Germany, develops ripe fruit flavours at low grape-sugar levels, which means its wine has less alcohol, while retaining crisp, mouth-watering acidity.

So, instead of reaching for another bottle of sauvignon blanc or pinot gris, why not try New Zealand’s most ­overlooked varietal wine? With its inviting floral scents, lightness and incisive, citrusy, limey flavours, riesling is the perfect summer wine.

Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Riesling 2015 •••••

Estate-grown on the Waimea Plains, this richly scented, light-bodied wine (10.5% alc/vol) has strong lemon, lime and passionfruit flavours, with an off-dry, appetisingly crisp finish. Very fresh and ­concentrated, it is a beautifully poised wine, already highly expressive. A top buy. $20

Greystone Waipara Valley Riesling 2015 •••••

Hand-picked with a small portion of Botrytis cinerea (noble rot), this lovely young wine is a medium style. Full-bodied (12.5% alc/vol), it has strong, ripe, citrusy, peachy flavours, hints of lime, spice and honey, and excellent concentration and harmony. Instantly appealing. $27

Misha’s Vineyard Limelight Riesling 2014 •••••

The grapes for this single-vineyard wine were hand-picked in Central Otago. Highly scented, it is a vibrantly fruity, medium style with moderate alcohol (10.5%/vol), and complexity gained by fermenting 25% of the blend with ­indigenous yeasts in old French oak ­barrels. Fleshy, with ­concentrated, citrusy, limey flavours, ­appetising acidity and a rich, finely poised finish, it’s already delicious. $28

Prophet’s Rock Central Otago Dry Riesling 2014 •••••

Estate-grown at Pisa, in the Cromwell Basin, this classy wine was matured in old oak barrels. It has a scented, citrusy bouquet, revealing good complexity. Medium-bodied (11.4% alc/vol), it has strong, vibrant lemon, grapefruit and lime flavours, a bare hint of sweetness, good acid spine and a finely poised, lasting finish. A wine of real personality, it is delicious now, but should also be long-lived. $35

Bannock Brae Central Otago Dry Riesling 2016 ••••½

Grown at Bendigo, this highly distinctive wine reflects “traditional German winemaking techniques”, including fermentation and lees-ageing in old oak barrels. Youthful but already very approachable, it is a fresh, medium to full-bodied wine (12% alc/vol), with strong, citrusy, peachy, slightly spicy flavours, showing unusual complexity, and a crisp, dryish, finely balanced finish. $25

Black Estate Damsteep Waipara Valley Riesling 2015 ••••½

From vines planted in 1999, this North Canterbury wine was fermented in tanks (mostly) and old 500-litre ­barrels. Pale straw, it is mouthfilling (12% alc/vol) and fleshy, in a dryish style with concentrated, peachy flavours, slightly spicy, ­gingery and honeyed, finely balanced acidity and excellent vigour and harmony. Drink now or cellar. $28

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2015 ••••½

Hand-picked from mature vines, this wine was half-fermented with indigenous (“native”, rather than cultured) yeasts in old French oak barrels, and all of the blend was oak-aged for five months. Made in a medium style, it is instantly attractive, with good body (12.5% alc/vol), ripe flavours of peaches, passionfruit and limes, gentle sweetness, a touch of complexity and excellent harmony and concentration. $29

Mud House The Mound Waipara Valley Riesling 2014 ••••½

Drinking well now, this single-vineyard North Canterbury wine is invitingly scented. Medium-bodied (11.5% alc/vol), it has an attractive array of lemon, apple and lime flavours, with slightly toasty, bottle-aged notes emerging and lovely harmony. $24

Neudorf Moutere Riesling Dry 2015 ••••½

Estate-grown, hand-picked and fermented with indigenous yeasts in tanks (principally) and old oak casks, this is an elegant, tightly structured Nelson wine, medium to full-bodied (12% alc/vol), with strong, citrusy, limey, vaguely biscuity flavours, a gentle splash of sweetness, and fresh, balanced acidity. Still unfolding, it is already enjoyable. $27

Ostler Lakeside Wines Waitaki Valley North Otago Riesling 2013 ••••½

Full of personality, this fragrant, lemon-scented wine has good intensity of citrusy, slightly peachy flavours. Dryish, with good body (12.5% alc/vol), lively acidity and bottle-aged notes adding complexity, it is drinking well now. $30

Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2014 ••••½

This is a distinctive dry style, hand-picked and mostly handled in tanks, but partly fermented in old oak vessels. A full-bodied wine (13% alc/vol), it is powerful and ­persistent, with deep, ripe flavours, showing good complexity, fresh but not high acidity and a long, minerally finish. $22

Dashwood Marlborough Riesling 2015 ••••

Priced well, this floral, mouthfilling wine (12% alc/vol) is vibrantly fruity and reasonably dry. It has finely balanced acidity, with citrusy, limey flavours, showing very good delicacy and depth. $19

Mission Hawke’s Bay Riesling 2015 ••••

Finely balanced for easy drinking, this single-vineyard wine reveals good intensity. Aromatic, it’s medium-bodied (11.8% alc/vol), with strong, ripe, citrusy flavours and a harmonious, off-dry, lingering finish. Good value. $18

Terrace Edge Liquid Geography Waipara Valley Riesling 2015 ••••

Produced in a delicious, distinctly medium style, this sharply priced wine is certified organic. Bright, pale lemon/green, it is light-bodied (10.5% alc/vol), with strong, fresh lemon, lime and passionfruit flavours, lively acidity and excellent ­balance and depth. $19

Two Rivers of Marlborough Juliet Riesling 2016 ••••

From 16-year-old vines in the Wairau Valley, this tangy, lively wine is medium-bodied (11% alc/vol), with ripe, peachy, slightly sweet flavours, a hint of passionfruit and very good vigour and depth. Already approachable, it should be at its best from 2018 on. $25

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2015 ••••

Grown in the Wairau and Awatere valleys, this is an off-dry style. Highly aromatic, it is vibrantly fruity and medium to full-bodied (12% alc/vol), with strong, ripe, citrusy, slightly peachy flavours, skilfully balanced for early enjoyment. $20

Wairau River Summer Marlborough Riesling 2016 ••••

Made “to be supped with frivolous frivolity”, according to the producer, this is a fresh, light-bodied wine (9.5% alc/vol). Medium-sweet, with good intensity of peachy, citrusy flavours, fresh and tangy, it’s delicious from the start. $20

Brancott Estate Waipara Riesling 2016 •••½

Well priced, this is a vibrantly fruity, crisp, medium to full-bodied wine (12% alc/vol) with a sliver of sweetness and good depth of citrusy, slightly spicy flavours. Fresh, youthful and finely balanced, it should be at its best from mid-2017 on. $17

Old Coach Road Nelson Riesling 2015 •••½

From Seifried, this is an ­enjoyable, drink-young style, priced sharply. Medium-dry, it is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), crisp and lively, with plenty of fresh, citrusy, slightly spicy flavour. $13

Peter Yealands Marlborough Riesling 2015 •••½

Priced right, this is a lively, medium-bodied wine (12% alc/vol,) with lemony, limey flavours, a gentle splash of sweetness, fresh acidity, and very good varietal character, depth and harmony. $16

This article was first published in the January 14, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener. Follow the Listener on Twitter, Facebook and sign up to the weekly newsletter.

Latest

How NZ women won the right to vote first: The original disruptors & spiteful MPs
96463 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

How NZ women won the right to vote first: The orig…

by Vomle Springford

Is it right that while the loafer, the gambler, the drunkard, and even the wife-beater has a vote, earnest, educated and refined women are denied it?

Read more
Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provocateur Mary Ann Müller
96479 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provoca…

by Cathie Bell

Mary Ann Müller was fighting for women’s rights before Kate Sheppard even arrived here, but her pioneering contribution to the cause is little known.

Read more
Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary about his life
96472 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary …

by James Robins

Joe Stephenson’s tender documentary Playing the Part looks at McKellen's life as an actor, activist and perpetual wizard.

Read more
The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in Stonefields
96507 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in …

by Alex Blackwood

Burgers, milkshakes and fries are not rare things to find in Auckland, so The Chosen Bun's owners were smart to be very picky about their ingredients.

Read more
The brutality experienced by the suffragettes
11636 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Listener NZ 2015

The brutality experienced by the suffragettes

by Sally Blundell

As we mark 125 years since NZ women got the right to vote, we must remember it didn't come easily.

Read more
The case for closing prisons
96403 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Social issues

The case for closing prisons

by Paul Little

If we want a prison system that does a better job than the current one, alternatives aren’t hard to find.

Read more
Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist mixing rugby with politics
96422 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist …

by Clare de Lore

Australian-New Zealander Jennifer Curtin says the lopsided nature of the Bledisloe Cup pales in comparison to the slump in transtasman relations.

Read more
Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking flight
96439 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Music

Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking fligh…

by James Belfield

Don McGlashan is taking some old unloved songs on his New Zealand tour.

Read more